As a Matter of Fact!

District Newsletter - Vol. 2, Issue 3 - October 9, 2020

Superintendent's Message

Hello SOMSD Family,

It’s hard to believe that we are one-month into our virtual learning. Throughout the process we have been learning and tweaking where necessary, to ensure that we are providing our students with the best educational experience possible. In the midst of this unprecedented time, I am happy to see opportunities for our students to enjoy a sense of normalcy and want to acknowledge some scholastically talented CHS seniors.

On October 5th, I had the opportunity to attend an outdoor, socially-distanced, recognition gathering for 20 Columbia High School seniors from the Class of 2021 who were recognized as Commended Students for the National Merit Scholarship Program; and 3 seniors who were named National Merit Scholarship Program Semifinalists.

Our 20 CHS commended students (among the our BOE student rep. Lily Forman) placed among the top 50,000 scorers of more than 1.5 million students who entered the 2021 competition by taking the 2019 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT); while our 3 CHS Semifinalist are among approximately 16,000 Semifinalists in the 66th annual National Merit Scholarship Program. These academically talented students have the opportunity to continue in the competition for National Merit Scholarships

CHS administrators, Principal Frank Sanchez, along with Director of Counseling, Falynne Bassalone and her office coordinated the event to congratulate our seniors on their accomplishments. Maplewood Mayor, Frank McGhee also joined the celebration. Help me in congratulating all of the CHS students listed below:

CHS Class of 2021 National Merit Scholarship Program Commended Students:

1. Walter Behaylo

2. Olivia G. Brash

3. Alethea O. Cenedella

4. Benjamin G. Christmann

5. Thomas J. Culhane

6. Ethan Fisk

7. Lily Forman

8. Mariko A. Goetz

9. Brian J. Goodman

10. Colby Green

11. Alexander Klint

12. Joshua J. Lee

13. Jacob I. Messer

14. Archer C. O’Connell

15. Zander Rhodes

16. Margaret A. Riekenberg

17. Gabriel F. Roth Benjamin

18. G. Rothman

19. Owen W. Witt

20. Skylar O. Yarter

CHS Class of 2021 National Merit Scholarship Program Semifinalists:

1. Matthew D. Krause

2. Daniel J. Palumbo

3. Julia A. Vitale

Educationally Yours,

Dr. Ronald G. Taylor

2020 - 2021 Google School Year Calendar

As the District works on finalizing the 2020 - 2021 School Year Handbook, SOMSD Families can access our virtual google calendar for District and school-level events from September - December.

SOMSD Celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month

The South Orange & Maplewood School District celebrates the positive impact that Hispanic Americans have left on our country. We especially want to recognize and celebrate all of our staff, students, and community members of Hispanic/Latin ancestry. Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, by celebrating the histories, cultures, and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America," according to the official government website. It takes place from September 15-October 15 every year. Read more.
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Attendance Calls to Families to Resume on Mon., October 12

Starting on Monday, October 12th, the district will begin placing daily automated calls to families of students who have been marked absent for the school day. If you receive an automated call indicating that your child has been marked absent for the school day and you feel this is in error, please reach out to the school's main office for further information.

Clinton Elementary School – (973) 378-7686
Jefferson Elementary School – (973) 378-7696
Marshall Elementary School – (973) 378-7698
Seth Boyden Elementary School – (973) 378-5209
South Mountain Elementary School – (973) 378-5216
South Mountain Elementary School Annex – (973) 378-2801
Tuscan Elementary School – (973) 378-5221
Maplewood Middle School – (973) 378-7660

South Orange Middle School – (973) 378-2772
Columbia High School – (973) 762-5600

Montrose Early Childhood Center – (973) 378-2086

Applecore Learning Center – (973) 763-1700

Zadie's of the Oranges – (973) 395-5112

La Petite Academy – (973) 378-3500

Kinder Gan – Phone: (973) 763-7455

2020-2021 Free & Reduced Price School Meal Applications Now Available - Submit by Oct. 20

The 2020-2021 Application for Free and Reduced Price School Meals is a family/ household application. Therefore, only one application per household needs to be completed and submitted. This year's application must be submitted by October 20.

A new application must be completed and submitted before October 20, 2020. If you qualified for free or reduced-price meals during the 2019-2020 school year, your child's benefits will continue only until October 20, 2020, or upon processing a new application. A new application must be completed each school year.

In order for Food Services to process your application as quickly as possible, please return only one application per household to the Administration Building. Applications are available in English and Spanish. Click HERE to complete the 2020-21 Free & Reduced Price Lunch Application.

Ways to Submit Applications:

  1. Mail-in: Download the application from the website and mail it to the Administration Building, Attn: Attn: Business Office, 525 Academy Street, Maplewood, NJ (faxed applications will not be accepted)
  2. Fill out Application Online:
  3. Pick-Up Paper Application: Families can pick-up paper applications at Columbia High School or Seth Boyden Elementary from 12pm - 2:15 pm during Grab and Go lunch pick-ups
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2020 SOMSD Virtual Week of Respect

This week schools throughout SOMSD Celebrated "Week of Respect" from October 5-9. In 2011, NJ signed into law the NJ Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act, a policy created by the NJ Legislature that combats bullying in public schools across the state. The Week of Respect, which grew out of the Act, is held annually to raise awareness, educate, and advocate against harassment, intimidation and bullying. Although being done virtually this year, all schools within our District have created unique and age-appropriate ways to assist students in understanding harassment, intimidation, and bullying.
New Videos Posted to District YouTube Channel

The Parenting Center's: Social, Emotional & Academic Crisis Support Speaker Series incl. Academic Support During Remote Learning; Emotional Supports for Elem. and Secondary Students; and How Stress Affects Children are now available for viewing.

Special Services Updates

This month, the Special Services Department shared its inaugural monthly newsletter. Feel free to view this newsletter to learn about department updates, related services, support requests, virtual accommodations, upcoming, home--school distance learning webinar for families of students with special needs, SPED FAQs, and more.

Click here to view: SPED October Newsletter

SOMSD Fall Food Support Programs: Updated Pick-Up Times for School Grab 'n" Go Lunches

Learn more about Fall 2020 food support programs for the District. The District's lunch program continues and is open to all students with pick-up times from Monday - Friday | 12 pm - 2:15 pm at CHS and Seth Boyden Elementary School. Additional information on pantry distribution with local partners, CHS Cougar Cares and SOMA Shares can be found on the District website (Spanish & Haitian Creole translations included):
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District Updates, Reminders & News

See updates, reminders, and news regarding important District, school and partner information.
The Elementary School Social Work Program offers counseling services for students at each of South Orange and Maplewood School District's elementary schools. The program offers remote individual and small group counseling with a social work intern. Its aim is to remove barriers to success and to provide students with the social/ emotional support necessary for them to get the most out of their school experience. For more information click here.
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Parent/Guardian Virtual Instruction "Best Practices"

The Parent/Guardian Virtual Learning Best Practices” will help to guide families in the virtual learning setting. Following these best practices will ensure that teachers are able to teach students effectively in a safe environment.

Cast Your Vote in Upcoming November Elections

Essex County, NJ Nov. 3, 2020 General Election Vote by Mail Essex County Clerk's Office Drop Box PSA

We encourage our SOMSD community to remember to cast your vote in the upcoming November 3 elections. Residents of Maplewood and South Orange can mail out their ballot via USPS or can drop off their mail-in ballot at: ballot drop boxes installed and administered by the Essex County Clerk, the boxes are located at:

  • Maplewood: Police & Courts Building,1618 Springfield Avenue
  • South Orange: Sloan Street Gazebo by the train station

NJ voters can choose from one of 5 options:

  • Mail-in their ballot through the USPS
  • Return their ballot through a secure dropbox
  • Bring the ballot to your local Board of Elections office (For Essex County: 465 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Newark, NJ, 973-621-5071)
  • Hand their ballot directly to a poll worker at a polling place on Election Day (Find your polling place here)
  • Vote in-person with a provisional paper ballot; disabled voters may vote using an ADA compliant voting machine.

Important dates (courtesy of Democracy Works):

  • Election Day is Tuesday, November 3, 2020.
  • The deadline to register online to vote is Tuesday, October 13, 2020.
  • The deadline for registering by mail to vote is (postmarked by) Tuesday, October 13, 2020.
  • The deadline to register in-person to vote is Tuesday, October 13, 2020.
  • The early voting period runs from Saturday, September 19, 2020, to Monday, November 2, 2020, but dates and hours may vary based on where you live.

For more detailed information on voting in Maplewood and South Orange, click here:

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Congratulations to CHS Class of 2021 National Merit Scholarship Program Commended Students & Semifinalist

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SOMSD District Calendar October/November 2020

  • Tuesday, October 13: PD DAY FOR STAFF - HALF-DAY (PreK-12)
  • Monday, October 19: BOARD OF EDUCATION MEETING | 7:30 pm
  • Thursday, October 22: SEPAC MEETING | 7:15 pm
  • Monday - Friday, November 2 - 6: FALL BREAK - DISTRICT CLOSED (Includes Election & NJEA Convention Days)
  • Monday, November 16: BOARD OF EDUCATION MEETING | 7:30 pm
  • Wednesday, November 25: HOLIDAY RECESS - HALF-DAY (PreK-12)
  • Thursday - Friday, November 26 - 27: THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY - DISTRICT CLOSED